Why Are ‘Made in China’ Products Often Associated with Poor Quality?

Why are ‘Made in China’ products often associated with being poor in quality?

–By a Quora user

Gabriel Chan, Overseas Chinese(華僑)


Why are Chinese products often associated with poor quality
Why are Chinese products often associated with poor quality

Many Made in China products and services fall under the yellow and blue circles, because that’s what people want, and that’s how China’s manufacturing had been initially been configured for. These products are poor quality because that is what was expected. But now, there are more people picking red and blue, or red and yellow. One such example is high-speed train sets.

Tom Chandler, Sourcing and technology transfer with Chinese industry for 2 decades

I offer my comments, reflecting on my experience, which likely includes my western capitalistic bias.

Most of what I am about to write concerns older Chinese industry, certainly not applicable to the newer electronics and cell phones and such built in China. This story is just one small microcosm of global business, non ferrous metals.

I have spent the past 17 years working with Chinese factories to supply raw material for our US factories. The sources of this unique product from US are all closed or out of business in this market, so I have spent much time in China at many factories, evaluating technical capability, manufacturing discipline that I am familiar with here in US and Europe. Also, I have looked in Europe, Eastern Europe, India, and Korea and have a fairly well drawn picture of global capability north of the equator with respect to the industrial product I am sourcing.

Factories in China
Factories in China

I see considerable variation in capability and performance in the Chinese mills around the country. In general, much of the equipment was imported from closed US factories or bought new from Japan, or Europe, etc — these were mostly state owned mills.

My experience with the state owned mills can be summarized in the basic lack of initiative to improve by most of the managers and technical staff. They had low pay and no incentive to improve and optimize processes ( continuous improvement), as I have been so familiar with here in US , so at some times quality would be OK and other simple cosmetic issues that could be fixed quickly in a motivated western mill would never be addressed. I met with a lot of good, knowledgeable, and capable professionals, but the lack of initiative could never sustain an effective continuous improvement program needed to produce consistent high quality materials.

Privatizing some of these state own factories is changing the picture as the Chinese govt seems to be grasping and utilizing the positive and best parts of capitalism to the advantage of the industrial sectors in China. One of the old state mills I worked with was privatized and failed fairly quickly, because the work culture with management was not taught to deal with “the new way”. On the other hand, some private factories managed by a profit motivated management are dong quite well with respect to quality, factories are beautifully laid out and there is understanding of the value of product quality.

As a final point (my opinion only), many Western buyers and corporations were drawn to China many years ago by the extreme relative low labor cost and were able to make marked improvements in profits by purchasing VERY low cost materials from China. AND they were blindly willing to accept lower quality than they would from their own US factories, and so the Chinese factories weren’t pushed for fear of rising prices. In this event, the western capitalistic greed for profits actually promoted lower quality to be acceptable in Western markets.

Across the world, we are all beings of the human race, with similar abilities to learn, to make mistakes and even fail, with no one country or race better or worse than anyone else. We are all driven by our motivations, whatever they may be. I am still learning, probably at a faster rate than ever until my time runs out.

Jay Liu, I’ve been told I’m Chinese…

Yes, they are.

And it’s by design, not because Chinese just suck at making things despite our best efforts.

The vast majority of Chinese imports that reach Western retail consumers to form this opinion are mass market products that were never meant to be of particularly high quality.

You have to realize that prior to China becoming the world’s factory, things were generally a lot more expensive. Everything from textiles to home appliances, made in the US and Western Europe, were quite expensive since cheap labor wasn’t a thing yet.

Moreover, the vast majority of Chinese manufactured products are produced under Western brand names, and it’s these companies that specify what they want from the factory and what quality they want it at. If they’re Apple and they want top of the line, they get top of the line. If they’re Walmart and they want shit that barely works, then they get shit that barely works.  Chinese factories are good at delivering what was ordered, right down to how many days the product will last before failing miserably. It just so happens that until recently, the majority of the things being ordered from Chinese factories has been on the low end of the scale.

But that’s changing. It’s getting harder to find truly appaling death traps being made in China anymore. The cost of labor is too high for that to be economically sensical. A lot of the shitty stuff people think are made in China are not actually made in China. And a lot of the really nice luxury-tier items labeled as being not made in China were actually made in China. It seems to be a reputation that’s reaching its end assuming the media doesn’t do more to keep pushing it.

As an aside, one of the most highly respected China branded, China manufactured items in the US market is this:

Norinco AK
Norinco AK

That’s a “Polytech Legend”, which is an imported Norinco AK. A lot of them (not just AKs, but all kinds of guns) were imported for many years into the US, and they quickly gained a reputation for being well made, reliable firearms for the price. Quality wise, they’re up there with Russian and Polish AKs. Since the import ban, their prices have skyrocketed, making them some of the most expensive AKs out there.

Jon Bohmer, Inventor

You mean iPhones or plastic Christmas trinkets? The Chinese will make whatever quality you need, given that you are willing to do rigorous quality control and are willing to pay more for better quality.

In Africa we have a saying that Chinese factories sort their output in three bins. Bin A, the best quality, is for Europe and the US. Bin B is for sale in China, while bin C goes to Africa…

Dave Lindbergh, I’ve been around the world; had my pick of any girl. You’d think I’d be happy…

China is a huge country with a huge range of manufacturers.

China makes things that are absolute garbage and also things that are absolutely first-class.

You can’t generalize based on “made in China”.  It depends on what, and who, and how much you pay, and how good you are at negotiating…

The only thing I’ll say about Chinese product quality that is different from other countries…in China it varies more.  Because China is bigger.

Quoted from https://www.quora.com/Why-are-Made-in-China-products-often-associated-with-being-poor-in-quality

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